Justin Rose says he won’t be weighed down by his world number one ranking when he makes his 2019 debut at the PGA Tour’s Desert Classic in La Quinta, California on Thursday.
The English ace makes his first appearance of the year when he tees it up in the 60th edition of the tournament staged at the Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course at PGA West, southeast of Los Angeles.
The 2016 Olympic champion enjoyed a stellar season last year, posting just one finish outside the top 25 and clinching victory in the lucrative FedEx Cup postseason.
He narrowly missed out on finishing 2018 as world number one but reclaimed the ranking from Brooks Koepka last week after the American could only finish 24th at the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.
The 38-year-old Englishman told reporters on Wednesday however he will not be preoccupied by trying to retain his place at the summit of the world rankings this year.
“You only get to number one in the world by playing consistently good golf and that’s always been my goal, to try and get the best out of my game week-in, week-out,” Rose said.
“Once (No.1) presented itself it became a big goal and it’s been a fantastic milestone in my career to have got there.
“But I feel like having got there now it’s about letting it go a little bit, in the sense of, I need to focus on other goals now. If I achieve those other goals I’ll remain at the top.”
Rose, whose last outing came at the Indonesian Masters in Jakarta last month, will be playing his first tournament since switching to Homna golf clubs.
“Of course there’s a few unknowns; there’s always a settling-in period with change generally,” Rose said.
“Obviously I believe that I’ve made some good decisions and some good changes, and I feel confident about things. But you never quite know until the scorecard is in your hand.
“There will be some learning this week, and potentially tweaking next week. It’s just about going out and playing and getting comfortable with it.”
Rose will move from La Quinta to the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines outside San Diego next week.
Rose can expect stiff competition from Spain’s defending champion Jon Rahm while two-time former winner Phil Mickelson is also in the field.
© Agence France-Presse (Additional edits by Marisa Kennedy)